Cultural Factors Affecting Information-Seeking Behaviour: Case Study of GCC Universities

Cultural Factors Affecting Information-Seeking Behaviour: Case Study of GCC Universities

Ali Amour El-Maamiry (University of Dubai, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9825-1.ch021

Abstract

This chapter investigates the cultural effects on information seeking behaviour in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) universities. The region's unique conservative and collectivist culture played a great role in students' information seeking behaviour. The study was based on Hofstede's cultural concepts of collectivism versus individualism and power distance. It includes also Hall's concept of time cultural dimension. These concepts are measured by information needs, query formulation, task execution, and interacting with systems. It was found that culture has significant effects on students' information needs, query formulation, task execution, and interacting with systems. Undergraduates are more affected by culture, while graduates and postgraduates showed little impact. Cultural impacts on information seeking activities are valuable in adopting new technologies in the libraries, which should culturally be acceptable for better acceptance, utilisation, and implementation. It is culture that hinders people from using some browsers, interfaces, and even databases.
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Background

There are relative, few studies dealing with gender-specific differences in information-seeking behaviour. These differences were found in topics such as task execution, interacting with systems, and query formulation. Some studies suggested that due to the socio-cultural background of gender, women may be prone to computer anxiety and feelings of low self-efficacy (Wilson, 1997). Gender differences have also been found in the internet information search and use among students investigated by Dubi and Rutsch (1998). Authors observed that female students lacked self-confidence; they behaved with less certainty than male students in the Internet search. Female students felt less competent in dealing with search engines, more often needed assistance and described the system as very complicated to use. The survey by Xie, Bao, and Morais (2006) on gender differences in tourist information search behaviour of Yellow Mountain and Guilin in China. Authors reported that gender is a factor influencing information-seeking behaviour and process. Authors observed that characterisation of men and women as reasons for different activities in seeking information. Men were self-centred, self-confident, and choosy while the female was less self-confident, comprehensive searchers as well as uncertain with their search results. This behaviour is the reason that women's searches are considered as stereo-type and mostly considered complicated.

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